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Definition

What is shoulder pain?

The shoulder has a wide and versatile range of motion. When something goes wrong with your shoulder, it hampers your ability to move freely and can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort.

Shoulder pain may arise from the shoulder joint itself or from any of the many surrounding muscles, ligaments or tendons. Shoulder pain that comes from the joint usually worsens with activities or movement of your arm or shoulder.

Various diseases and conditions affecting structures in your chest or abdomen, such as heart disease or gallbladder disease, also can cause shoulder pain. Shoulder pain that arises from another structure is called referred pain. Referred shoulder pain usually doesn’t worsen when you move your shoulder.

How common is shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is common. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of shoulder pain?

The common symptoms of shoulder pain are pain and discomfort with movement of shoulders

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

 

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes shoulder pain?

The shoulder is a ball and socket joint with a large range of movement. Such a mobile joint tends to be more susceptible to injury. Shoulder pain can stem from one or more of the following causes:

  • Strains from overexertion
  • Tendonitis from overuse
  • Shoulder joint instability
  • Dislocation
  • Collar or upper arm bone fractures
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Pinched nerves (also called radiculopathy)

Risk factors

What increases my risk for shoulder pain?

There are many risk factors for shoulder pain, such as:

  • Performing manual labor
  • Playing sports
  • Repetitive movement
  • Certain diseases, including diseases of the cervical spine of the neck, as well as liver, heart, or gallbladder disease
  • More than age 60

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is shoulder pain diagnosed?

In the case of an acute injury causing intense pain, seek medical care as soon as possible. If the pain is less severe, it may be safe to rest a few days to see if time will resolve the problem. If symptoms persist, see a doctor.

Your doctor will conduct a thorough evaluation in order to determine the cause of your shoulder pain and provide you with treatment options.

Medical History

The first step in the evaluation is a thorough medical history. Your doctor may ask how and when the pain started, whether it has occurred before and how it was treated, and other questions to help determine both your general health and the possible causes of your shoulder problem. Because most shoulder conditions are aggravated by specific activities, and relieved by specific activities, a medical history can be a valuable tool in finding the source of your pain.

Physical Examination

A comprehensive examination will be required to find the causes of your shoulder pain. Your doctor will look for physical abnormalities, swelling, deformity or muscle weakness, and check for tender areas. He or she will observe your shoulder range of motion and strength.

Tests

Your doctor may order specific tests to help identify the cause of your pain and any other problems.

  • X-rays. These pictures will show any injuries to the bones that make up your shoulder joint.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound. Thes imaging studies create better pictures of soft tissues. It may help your doctor identify injuries to the ligaments and tendons surrounding your shoulder joint.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan. This tool combines x-rays with computer technology to produce a very detailed view of the bones in the shoulder area.
  • Electrical studies. Your doctor may order a tests, such as the EMG (electromyogram), to evaluate nerve function.
  • During this x-ray study, dye is injected into the shoulder to better show the joint and its surrounding muscles and tendons.
  • In this surgical procedure, your doctor looks inside the joint with a fiber-optic camera. Arthroscopy may show soft tissue injuries that are not apparent from the physical examination, x-rays, and other tests. In addition to helping find the cause of pain, arthroscopy may be used to correct the problem.

 

How is shoulder pain treated?

Activity Changes

Treatment generally involves rest, altering your activities, and physical therapy to help you improve shoulder strength and flexibility. Common sense solutions such as avoiding overexertion or overdoing activities in which you normally do not participate can help to prevent shoulder pain.

Medications

Your doctor may prescribe medication to reduce inflammation and pain. If medication is prescribed to relieve pain, it should be taken only as directed. Your doctor may also recommend injections of numbing medicines or steroids to relieve pain.

Surgery

Surgery may be required to resolve some shoulder problems; however, 90 percent of patients with shoulder pain will respond to simple treatment methods such as altering activities, rest, exercise, and medication.

Certain types of shoulder problems, such as recurring dislocations and some rotator cuff tears, may not benefit from exercise. In these cases, surgery may be recommended fairly early.

Surgery can involve arthroscopy to remove scar tissue or repair torn tissues, or traditional, open procedures for larger reconstructions or shoulder replacement.

Lifestyle changes & Home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage shoulder pain?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Shoulder Pain:

  • Rest
  • Avoid activities that over exert on the shoulder
  • Avoid overdoing physical activities

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 4, 2017 | Last Modified: August 4, 2017